This exhibit (which sadly closed on Sunday!) featured six stained glass windows on loan as part of a travelling exhibition while the cathedral undergoes several years of much-needed repairs. The windows, which span different artists and commissions (dating 1178-1180), depict six of the ancestors of Christ—Jared, Lamech, Thara, Abraham, Noah and Phalec. These figures are part of an original cycle of the eighty-six ancestors of Christ, some of which surrounded the tomb of Saint Thomas Beckett. Back in the twelfth century, Becket was assassinated in the northern transept of the cathedral on behalf of Henry II, and was canonized only a couple of years after his death—a pretty quick rise to the top!
These windows are in great shape considering their age and are incredibly vibrant—so much so that it is easy to forget that you are looking at glass painted over eight hundred years ago. Jared is depicted with deliberate brushstrokes and intricate detail—check out his cute curls and patterned garments. The colors are especially lively and really create a striking character. The window featuring Abraham is also pretty spectacular. Here, Abraham is incredibly detailed and confident inside a heavily ornamented space decorated with Romanesque borders. Together, this exhibit was a must-see, and I hope it travels to more cities before its return to England. These masterpieces of the Romanesque period are fun to see, especially against the backdrop of a modern city.
It was a total no brainer to pair this trip with stained glass cookies. When I found this recipe on Flourish, I couldn’t help but step away impressed and slightly intimidated. Please don’t be intimidated—try these right away! They are actually pretty easy to make and the finished product is well worth the effort.
Stained Glass Cookies
1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, room temperature
¼ teaspoon flavoring of your choosing (I used Fiori di Sicilia, but almond or vanilla extracts would be great as well)
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 bag hard candies of your choice
Mix the sugar and salt together and add the butter. Beat with an electric mixer until light and smooth, and then add the egg yolk and flavoring. Slowly add in the flour, mixing well. If the dough is too dry, add in couple of teaspoons of water. Once dough is finished, divide into two equal parts and wrap in plastic wrap. Let chill for 2 hours to overnight. While the dough is chilling, carefully unwrap (if necessary) each piece of hard candy in your desired flavor and add to a food processor. Pulse for about a minute, when the candies have turned into a coarse sugar, and then set aside. When you are ready to make the cookies, let the dough rest on the counter while oven pre-heats to 350°F. Carefully roll out the dough about ¼ inch thick, and cut using your cookie cutter. Remember, in order to create the stained glass effect, the dough must also have another hole cut out in the center of the shape, so I would aim for a simple larger shape, which will be sturdier with another tiny shape cut in the center.
Arrange the cookies on a parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheet, and carefully scoop a small mound of the crushed candies in the empty whole inside each cookie shape. Scoop enough to cover the negative space with a thin layer of sugar, creating a small mound, but try to be careful about not letting any spill over. Quickly transfer to the hot oven, and bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. When the cookies are finished baking, be sure to let them cool for at least 10 minutes, so that the “stained glass” can set completely. Enjoy!!